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San Quentin death row inmate Harvey Heishman dies of natural causes

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SAN QUENTIN -- Harvey L. Heishman III, a 74-year-old convicted murderer and rapist on death row at San Quentin State Prison, died Tuesday of natural causes at the prison infirmary, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation announced Wednesday.

Harvey Heishman III CDCR

Heishman was sentenced to death in 1981 for the murder of Oakland resident Nancy Lugassy in November 1979. Lugassy was planning to testify that Heishman raped her on the night they met in July of that year. 

Police arrested Heishman, a San Leandro resident, following the sexual assault, but he was released on bail. Shortly before her planned court appearance, Heishman fatally shot Lugassy in the front yard of her home.

During the penalty phase of his trial, jurors heard from five other women who testified that Heishman had sexually assaulted them between 1968 and 1979. Heishman had also been convicted 1970 of rape and assault with intent to commit rape against three additional victims.

A CDCR spokesperson said the department cannot disclose why Heishman was in the infirmary. The coroner's division of the Marin County Sheriff's Office will determine his cause of death.

The last execution in California was in 2006. In 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order imposing a moratorium on the death penalty in California. 

There are currently 687 condemned inmates at California prisons.

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